shalan joudry is a L’nu (Mi’kmaw) narrative artist working in many mediums. She is a poet, playwright, podcast producer, oral storyteller and actor, as well as a cultural interpreter. For over two decades shalan has brought her Mi’kmaw stories to a new generation of listeners, sharing her poetry, oral storytelling and drum singing with numerous stages, events, schools and organizations. Her unique specialty is performing for audiences around a campfire. She has had the honour of performing as part of openings for stars such as Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jeremy Dutcher at the King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal.

Shalan has published two books of poetry with Gaspereau Press: Generations Re-merging (2014) and Waking Ground (2020). Waking Ground was shortlisted for the 2021 J.M. Abraham Atlantic Poetry Award, the 2021 Maxine Tynes Nova Scotia Poetry Award, the 2021 Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for Poetry in English.

Shalan’s poem, Kmətkinu, where she brings together a total of 13 different languages and voices to read her words, was featured at Nocturne (Halifax) as an audio installation in the Halifax Public Gardens. Kmətkinu is also being published as a limited edition hand-pressed book by Running the Goat Books and Broadsides, a micro press producing exceptional quality books that is based in Newfoundland.

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Photo by Dan Froese

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Photo by Dan Froese

Her first full length play, Elapultiek, which tells the story of two contrasting ideologies around conservation and understanding of the landscape of Mi’kma’ki, was commissioned by and produced twice by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre (2018 and 2019). Shalan acted a lead role in both productions. Shalan is planning a post-pandemic Atlantic tour with Two Planks. The script for Elapultiek was published by Pottersfield Press (2019).

During covid, shalan has turned to performing virtual events, which has included sharing storytelling and poetry readings for: Afterwords Festival, Cabot Trail Writers Festival, Writers Federation of Nova Scotia virtual events, Creative NS Gala Awards, university courses and events, opening for Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “What the Earth Needs of Us” (Nocturne Halifax 2020), as well as the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre’s (PARC)'s 2021 Cabaret.

In 2016 shalan graduated with a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University and was nominated for a Governor General Gold Medal award for her thesis work on Mi’kmaw ways of knowing about fire on the land. In her role as a conservation ecologist, shalan uses Two-eyed Seeing methodologies to ground mainstream ecologists into L’nu cultural perspectives to work more effectively together on conservation programs. Shalan, along with her partner, Frank Meuse, facilitates eco-cultural and ecological professional development workshops in a forest retreat within her home community.

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Photo by Dan Froese

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Shalan has been focusing more in recent years on reclaiming her L’nu language. It’s been a difficult but beautiful journey. She hopes to weave her Indigenous language into as much of her work as an artist and ecologist as possible.

 

Shalan lives in her home territory of Kespukwitk (southwest Nova Scotia) with her family in their community of L’sətkuk (Bear River First Nation), where she is currently walking, dreaming and creating.

Photo by Frank Meuse